China Watching

A cura di Fabrizio Perretti

Cina vincitore
2020-12-21 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Big Winner

"If 300,000 people had died of Covid in China, how would the West have reacted?" The editorial in the English-language version of the People's Daily[1] leaves no doubt regarding the feeling of superiority in the People's Republic with respect to the management of the pandemic in the rest of the world. Especially today, with five vaccines in phase 3, four of which have already been approved for limited or emergency use,[2] and a plan to vaccinate 50 million people by the start of February. The government in Beijing wants to be ready for the Chinese New Year holidays, that in 2021 fall on February ...

2020-11-22 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

RCEP: A New Engine for Growth in Asia

It is called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, and it will go down in history as the largest trade deal in the world. 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific area – including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand – have agreed on free trade in an area that represents approximately one-third of global population and GDP, and does not include either the United States or any countries in Europe. It is also the first time that historic rivals in Eastern Asia have reached an agreement that, according to some estimates, could increase annual global wealth by 186 ...

Cina isolata
2020-11-01 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Shift in Beijing and the "Double Circulation" Strategy

The Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party was just concluded, bringing together the approximately two hundred members of the Central Committee – strictly behind closed doors – to define the details of the 14th five-year plan of the People's Republic of China (2021-2025) and the medium to long-term strategy entitled "Vision 2035," that is, how to become a country that is fuqiang, rich and powerful. While we have few details of the latter concept apart from the confirmation of moving towards "socialist modernization," the new five-year plan revolves entirely around a key concept introduced by ...

2020-09-21 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Great Race for a Vaccine that China Wants to Win

For more than a month the People’s Republic has not recorded any new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19;[1] schools and universities have reopened, and if we don’t consider the restrictions on entering the country and digital contact tracing,[2] everything seems to have returned to how it was prior to the pandemic. The Chinese economy was the first to breathe a sigh of relief, and the “Communist Party for the Chinese people, hit by the storm, has demonstrated the most reliable backbone,” President Xi Jinping declared last September 8, when he gave awards to the SARS-CoV-2 war heroes: ...

2020-09-01 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

Pinduoduo: The New Chinese E-Commerce Giant

Colin Huang is not a name known outside of China. Yet he is the man who together with Jack Ma of Alibaba and Pony Ma of Tencent (and thus WeChat) is competing for the top spots among China’s millionaires. Born in 1980, Huang comes from a working-class family and grew up in the suburbs of Hangzhou, the city in Eastern China where Jack Ma is also from, and where Alibaba has its headquarters. The company Huang created in 2015, Pinduoduo, has exceeded the value of the oil giant Shell in just five years. It is an e-commerce platform that competes directly with Alibaba and JD, but that uses messaging ...

2020-07-09 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Solitude of the WHO

"They’re giving [the information] to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV," the Chinese state channel. This, according to Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Beijing. His words clearly describe the UN agency's frustration toward China at the beginning of January, with the attempt to scrape up the little information available on the new coronavirus, the one that has now infected almost 12 million people around the world, provoking over 550,000 deaths. This statement is part of an account by the United States news agency Associated Press[1] that confirms the ...

Palazzo del popolo_Pechino
2020-05-28 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

Beijing’s Iron Fist

With a minute of silence and two months late, the lianghui began, literally the “two sessions.” This is the most important political appointment in the People’s Republic of China: almost five thousand government representatives arrive from all over China to “discuss” and ratify the budget and laws for the next year. The assembly takes place every March, but was postponed this year due to the pandemic. The members of the National People’s Congress, the body that comes closest to our Parliament, are all wearing masks. Only those in the first row have their faces uncovered. That is where ...

2020-05-04 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

China’s Difficult Phase 2

For Beijing, announcing the date of the only annual meeting of the National People’s Congress means affirming that the epidemic is under control. So when the date was officially set for May 22, after a delay of two and a half months, for many it was confirmation of a return to normalcy. People have in fact resumed taking public transportation and moving around the country, provided that the health code of the potential travellers - assigned by a complex algorithm that combines the medical history, travel, and contacts of each single citizen - is green. This system functions with at least a hundred ...

2020-03-25 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

Mask Diplomacy

They are already calling it “mask diplomacy.”[1] Selling medical devices in the time of Covid-19 is highly profitable, and China is starting to convert its economy. In just one month, it has gone from 20 to 116 million masks a day. And that’s still not enough. The new business involves both state-owned companies and small factories, incentivized with subsidies and tax reductions, interest-free loans and preferential channels to obtain the necessary documents and approvals. The result? Sinopec, that we could define as a state-owned multinational in the petrochemical field, has inaugurated ...

2020-02-24 Emanuele C. Francia

The Chinese Model of Internationalization. The case of ChemChina-Pirelli

Despite a slowdown in direct investment in the past two years, China's international expansion activities will continue at a strong pace[1] due to both the activism of large Chinese groups (that are often state-controlled), and due to the effect of the super-ambitious plan renamed the BRI-Belt and Road Initiative (or the "New Silk Road"). This advance is often perceived by foreign companies and their managers as a true attack on their economic system. In that regard, it is proper to ask whether this represents only a threat, or whether opportunities exist as well. The Chinese economic system is ...